Faculty at White Mountain Suzuki Institute at Ogontz are carefully chosen for their background and experience, their musicianship, their training and commitment to the Suzuki method, and their genuine interest in teaching and making connections with young people.
Kim Barrett (Co-Director, Violin) began studying the violin at age 12 with Linda Fiore in Pennsylvania. After graduating from West Chester University with Bachelors Degrees in Music Performance and Music Education, she went to Matsumoto, Japan to study personally with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and other master teachers. During her 3½ years in Japan, she assisted in translating for Dr. Suzuki and his writings as well as performed as an example of his teaching and method at National and International conferences in Japan. After graduating from the Talent Education Institute with the highest degree offered, Teaching and Performance Certificate, she returned to the United States in 1991 with her violinist husband, Tim Barrett. Kim also holds a Masters Degree in Violin Performance from the University of Tennessee where she studied with Mr. Mark Zelmanovich. Other teachers include Mark Bjork, Ronda Cole, Dorothy DeLay, Anastasia Jempelis, Brian Lewis, Sanford Reuning, Louise Wear, and Tom Wermuth.
For more than 25 years, Kim has been teaching music in both public schools and the private sector. Since moving to Johnson City, TN in 1991 as Director of the Violin Program for the Academy of Strings, Kim has taught numerous students ages 3 through adult. The Academy of Strings, a non-profit music academy, began with 12 students in 1991 and has grown to have a yearly enrollment of more than 90 students that come from 4 counties. Its faculty is dedicated to the personal development of students through quality music education and performance. The students of the Academy of Strings give back to the community by performing for a variety of community and civic organizations as well as for hospitals, nursing & retirement facilities, museums, churches, and schools. The most advanced students at the Academy perform as Ambassador Strings, a touring, recording, and concert ensemble, which has produced a compact disc titled: Noel Christmas Holiday Favorites and has performed at the Barter Theatre, Rhododendron Festival, with the Symphony of the Mountains and the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, Ambassador Strings completed a tour to Disney World.
Kim has taught as a guest clinician/string specialist for various workshops/clinics in CT, DE, GA, NC, NJ, PA, and SC. Together with her husband, she also directs a string orchestra program for students at a Title 1 public school in Johnson City. In addition to being former co-concertmaster of the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra and co-director of the Johnson City Youth Orchestra, Kim has performed with the Asheville, Kingsport, and Knoxville symphonies and is a member of the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra and Sophisticated Strings. She received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts as well as the Forty Under Forty Award by the Business Journal of the Tri-Cities. Kim lives in Johnson City with her husband, Tim and their two children, Harrison and Kristen.
Sarah Smale (Co-Director, Violin/Viola) began her musical studies on violin, viola and piano in Oxfordshire, England. She attended the Birmingham Conservatoire where she received a BA with honors. She continued her studies at the Guildhall School of Music in London. In Hartford, CT, she studied with the Emerson String Quartet and acquired her Suzuki training with Linda Fiore and Teri Einfeldt. Sarah has won several awards, including the Birmingham Conservatoire string quartet scholarship and the Herbert Lumby Viola prize. She has worked with world-renowned artists such as Pierre Boulez, Yuri Bashmet, Nicholas Kramer, Steve Reich, Sir Simon Rattle, Valery Gergiev, and Roger Norrington. Her experience includes numerous concerts and seminars with talented quartets and orchestras including: Takacs Quartet, European Chamber Orchestra, Russian National Ballet, and the Emerson Quartet, to which she was the assistant. Sarah has also played with numerous choral societies as principal viola, recorded television work for the BBC, and recorded extensively for Radio Suisse. She performs with the European Festival Orchestra in Neuchatel, Switzerland, where she is principal viola.
Annie Barley Givler (Cello) began playing the cello at the age of two. After graduating from the Pittsburgh High School for Creative and Performing Arts, she went on to pursue further education at the Eastman School of Music and the University of South Florida - earning both bachelors and masters degrees in cello performance as well as completing an additional major in music theory at the graduate level. She is in high demand as a Suzuki cello clinician and has frequently been invited to teach at some of the most prestigious Suzuki programs in the world. She has taught at every level of the music education spectrum – from infant Music Together classes to cello performance majors at the university level. For the past ten years, Annie has worked as a music teacher and strings specialist for the KIPP national network of charter schools – first in the South Bronx, then in North Philadelphia, and currently in Camden, New Jersey. She also maintains a private cello studio and can be heard on Bridge and New Amsterdam recording labels. Annie lives in Bryn Mawr, PA, just outside of Philadelphia with her husband Harley and their (soon to be) three awesome kids.
Dr. Harley Givler (Orchestra) is currently the Director of Bands and Orchestra at The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, PA, where he conducts all manner of musical ensembles, grades 4-12. Givler gained his first appreciation of conducting in the back of the orchestra as a french horn player at Interlochen Arts Academy, The Eastman and Yale Schools of Music, Stony Brook University and countless professional orchestras. His formal studies of conducting began in earnest while at Yale and have included study with Dr. John Stanley Ross, Toshiyuki Shimada, and Harold Farberman. In addition to teaching, conducting and playing horn, Harley is in demand as an adjudicator and clinician. He recently completed his certification to become one of the first teachers of Suzuki Trumpet in North America.
Rachelle Hawkey resides in Knoxville TN, where she owns and directs the Bravura Music Academy, and is the vocal soloist for her church and a homeschool mom. Her Suzuki student training began at age 8 with Linda Fiore. In late high school and college she also took her teacher training courses with Linda and assumed directorship of the West Chester University Community School Suzuki String Program. Chelle’s music degrees from West Chester University and University of Tennessee, Knoxville, however, are both in Vocal Performance! She held leading roles in all of UT’s operas while attending the Master’s Program, apprenticed with the Knoxville Opera Company, studied a summer in Italy with the Met Young Artist program and won NFMC and NATSA state and region competitions as well as a competition for a chance to perform in Carnegie Hall. She taught on the vocal faculty at Pellissippi Community College for 3 years and then was brought on board as an Associate Professor of Voice at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for 8 years.
Angela Leidig’s involvement with the Suzuki method goes back 35+ years. She started playing violin when she was five years old in a Suzuki public school program in Pennsylvania. She began teaching in 1991 while finishing high school and continued teaching ever since. She completed her Suzuki Teacher training for Books 1-10 under Kimberly Meier-Sims, Linda Fiore, Ronda Cole, Ed Sprunger and Ed Kreitman. Currently Angela is on the Suzuki faculty at New England Conservatory teaching both private lessons and group classes and maintains a private studio in Somerville, MA. She was on the Suzuki faculty at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA from 2008-2013. In the summer, Angela teaches at the NEC Summer SuzukiFest and taught at Ogontz Summer Suzuki Institute in NH fro the first time last summer. Angela is also a certified Alexander Technique teacher; she is dedicated to teaching young children how to play with an attitude of creativity and enjoyment, developing a technical and musical foundation of ease, balance and freedom from the beginning stages. She works closely with parent and child to develop healthy habits with the instrument and practice at home from the very beginning. Angela received her B.A. in Music from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, her M.M. from Boston University, and did doctoral work in violin performance at the University of Colorado in Boulder under the Takacs Quartet. Angela has dedicated much of her performance career and study to chamber music and continues freelancing and giving chamber music concerts in the Boston area.
Laura Nerenberg (Violin) obtained a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Ottawa and a Master of Music degree from the Hartt School where she also completed her formal Suzuki violin teacher training with Teri Einfeldt. Her principal violin teachers were John Gomez, Mitchell Stern and Katie Lansdale. A native of Montreal, Laura now lives in Ottawa where she performs chamber music, improvisatory music and jazz on her modern and Baroque violins. She teaches a wonderful group of students aged 4 to 17. Together, they perform at hospitals and long-term care facilities as the Rideau Falls Violin Ensemble.
Christopher Souza (Violin/Viola) began playing the violin at the age of nine, studying with private teachers in the Boston area through high school. He benefited most, however, from the refined instruction of violinist Mark Thielen at the Harrison Center in Lakeland, Florida. While attending this high school for the performing arts, Christopher joined the Imperial Symphony Orchestra and performed with renowned acts such as The Moody Blues and violinist Eugene Fodor. Christopher's playing was further enhanced by masterclasses with the Colorado String Quartet and members of the London Symphony Orchestra during the Florida International Festival. He was thrilled to perform with both ensembles during this formative two week experience. After graduating from Lee University, he joined the Tammy Rochelle Band and gave concerts on stages across Europe on three international tours. In conjunction with the International YMCA, Christopher performed in The World's Fair and many other festivals throughout Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Sweden as a part of this folk-inspired rock band. Touring proved to be a rewarding career path: Christopher soon won the only string seat on two tours with the Lawrence Welk Show Live, performing throughout Canada and the United States. While working on a masters degree in Springfield, Missouri, Christopher was pleased to become a part of a flourishing arts community there. He joined the Springfield Symphony, performing with Manhattan Transfer, renowned Jazz artists. Springfield also offered a Regional Opera Company, an accomplished Chamber Orchestra, an active theater, and many recording opportunities. In addition to freelance gigs and performances with the Monocacy Chamber Orchestra, Christopher is currently an independent Suzuki violin teacher in Tannersville, PA. Christopher has performed on stages across the Northeast with renowned acts, including celebrated recording artist Patti Page, Clay Aiken, Mannheim Steamroller, and "Christmas with the Celts." Penn Strings has been the catalyst for new growth and fresh ideas in his career as a professional musician.
Alexis Zingale (Accompanist) began her piano studies as a Suzuki student at the age of four, and presented her first solo recital program at age nine. Ms. Zingale has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada as soloist and collaborator in a variety of venues, winning numerous awards in both roles. Ms. Zingale has recorded for Peer Music Classical and the Charles Ives Society, and her performances have been broadcast on Connecticut Public Radio. Ms. Zingale is an adjunct professor of piano and chamber music at the University of Bridgeport, a staff accompanist at Western Connecticut State University, a piano faculty member and staff accompanist at Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, a piano faculty member at the Suzuki Music School of Westport, and the accompanist of the New Haven Oratorio Choir.